Shadowing the International Social Justice Commission
Caring spends time with ISJC key staff at the United at the United Nations.
In late September, Caring editor Christin Davis traveled to New York to spend a week at the International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) headquarters.
Though The Salvation Army has been present at the United Nations (UN) since 1947, General Shaw Clifton spearheaded the creation of the ISJC in 2007, prioritizing the Army’s involvement in international law, security, economic development, social progress, human rights and achieving world peace—areas the UN aims to facilitate worldwide cooperation within.
Directed by Commissioner Christine MacMillan, the ISJC is administratively connected to International Headquarters but based in Manhattan, with an expanded office at the nearby United Nations headquarters. The commission represents the Army’s voice in global deliberations on social justice matters.
The UN is divided into three administrative bodies: the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council; The Salvation Army now holds “special” status in the latter and sits on related committees.
“Historically, The Salvation Army looked at the root cause of a problem and spoke intelligently against it,” MacMillan said. “The present day challenge is to address those issues that bring tears to God’s eyes.”
The commission of full-time specialists—all committed Salvationists—liaises with other international agencies and organizations. The director and staff are the Army’s principal international advocates and advisers on social, economic and political issues and events giving rise to the perpetuation of social injustice in the world. They aim to assist the Army in addressing social injustice in a systematic, measured, proactive and Christian manner, consistent with the purposes of The Salvation Army.
Meeting the leadership
While in New York, Davis spent time with MacMillan and key ISJC staff, including the Army’s UN liaisons in town from Vienna, Geneva, Jakarta and Nairobi. She also interviewed new ISJC policy interns who will assist the ISJC research staff throughout the next year, and Dr. James Read, an ISJC senior policy analyst and liaison for the Army’s International Moral and Social Issues Council.
Davis accompanied Major Victoria Edmonds, ISJC representative to the UN, to a Security Council meeting, by invitation of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Council discussed the creation of a new entity, approved a week prior by the General Assembly, to promote international gender equality and the empowerment of women as a continuation of the Gender Equality Architecture Reform of 2007—something The Salvation Army advocated.
“Booth dreamt of having a department that would have a pulse on the world—an intelligence agency,” MacMillan said. “I feel we have become Booth’s intelligence department. We’re challenging the Army to create an expression that is concerned with the world.”
Look for coverage of this meeting in the coming issue of New Frontier and an extended feature about the ISJC and the Army’s involvement at the UN in the spring 2010 issue of Caring. To read Davis’ daily posts from New York, become a fan of Caring at facebook.com/CaringMagazine and click on the discussions tab.